Greek/Roman mythology was one of my first loves in reading…Bulfinch’s Mythology. By high school I was reading Ovid, Cicero and Virgil in latin class. And so my fascination with mythological themes in Victorian Era art. Alma-Tadema, Bouguerau, Leighton were the most celebrated. But my favorite was Herbert James Draper (1863-1920)
Studying and copying his techniques was my access to learning to paint. So it is fitting that I am turning back to his example in preparing some new compositions of my own. I think my next figure painting will be an homage to Draper.
Don’t you love the way Draper’s figures tend to “drape” over rocks?
I have the good fortune of selling a good part of what I paint…be it a portrait, figure study or abstract…but I don’t even put the piece on the wall unless I love it. There are dry spells of sales interspersed with “can’t paint ’em fast enough.” Yet the hard sell doesn’t get employed at Hartshorn Studios and clients aren’t chased and haggled with.
Read the best description below of why passion, patience and humility are an artist’s best attributes for the long and happy career…..
“The humility of the artist” by Seth Godin
It seems arrogant to say, “perhaps this isn’t for you.”
When the critic pans your work, or the prospect hears your offer but doesn’t buy, the artist responds, “that’s okay, it’s not for you.” She doesn’t wheedle or flip-flop or go into high pressure mode. She treats different people differently, understands that she is working to delight the weird, not please the masses, and walks away.
Isn’t that arrogant?
No. It’s arrogant to assume that you’ve made something so extraordinary that everyone everywhere should embrace it. Our best work can’t possibly appeal to the average masses, only our average work can.
Finding the humility to happily walk away from those that don’t get it unlocks our ability to do great work.
One of my favorite commission subjects is to to paint family portraits…more specifically, consecutive individual portraits of children (and teens) as they reach a certain age.
As an example in pastel, I painted Sam (on the right above) in 2010 at the age of 17, and am just finishing his younger brother, Michael (left above) at 17, three years later. Their portraits will be placed in the dining room on either side of a hutch and sort of facing each other. I love this tradition….. but I may have to wait a bit to paint the next generation.
Often times the children grow up and want their portraits. Easy solution: the parents keep the original, I scan it and print and frame a perfect giclee reproduction for the kids.
Besides being a terrible procrastinator, my worst enemy is inefficiency. There are thousands of interruptions, other priorities and preparations that get in the way of painting. My meaning-making mind is always telling me that I have to “earn” my time at the easel.
Enter Lila (as in Lila Kole-Berlingieri), the Gallery Manager at Hartshorn Studios. Last year she was a summer intern in painting and curating from Marlboro College in Vermont and returned full time in June.
Perhaps you have been more aware of us on social media lately. Thank Lila. Perhaps you have seen a more welcoming ambience at our gallery in the Tremont Arts District. Thank Lila. Or perhaps you have found more paintings on more walls and more going out the door with happier customers. Thank Lila. She lets me paint.
Artists need to work with other artists for many reasons. But if you want to paint better, faster and with greater creative satisfaction, find yourself a Lila. The art world’s best kept secret is out!
I’ve just begun an interesting and unusual new commission…..I’ll be breaking new ground with this one……. and I have a lot of artist’s discretion in the way I will approach it……. so in the next few months look forward to my ongoing thoughts about process, technique and self-critique. I’ll include progress photos, possibly videos and commentary by some fellow artists. Stay tuned.
Veterans Day is a great day to be a veteran, and I am….Military Police 1972-74… a lifetime ago.
But this year, after calling my father and thanking him for his service in WWII, I was honored to present the official portrait of Louis Stokes who was a U.S. Congressman for thirty years and did more for veterans rights and services than any living politician.
The Veterans Administration has named numerous buildings after him, one of which is the new Hospital in Cleveland and his portrait now hangs in its atrium…thanks to funding by the American Legion.
Thank you to the great staff at he the VA, especially Michael, Mindy, Liz and Ashley
Check out my Facebook Page at Robert Hartshorn Studio & Gallery for more pictures with all the dignitaries in attendance including Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge.